1. Ekko Muzic - "Welcome to Little Rock"
I'm pretty sympathetic to any attempts at making Little Rock anthems, and this one isn't bad as far as it goes. "Bangin' in the Rock ain't dead," Ekko Muzic says, which is both an obvious gesture and a subversive one — to point out that the city's old issues and tensions and divisions remain urgent and troubling, which seems inarguable and worth mentioning occasionally. Local anthems are necessary and positive by definition — it's good to talk about your surroundings, even if "try not to get shot" is the message you come up with.
2. Billy Von - "Mountain View"
Another new regional anthem, this time from the nostalgic country-folk contingent. "No, there ain't no place I'd rather be," etc. I could see this working well in a tourism bureau TV spot. Also it's kind of great — a tribute to an organic music scene that doesn't rely on social media for its perpetuation.
3. Voodoo Phaser - "Zwischen"
Fayetteville's Voodoo Phaser made one of the year's most interesting local records, "Tropical Scenario,"
and this is from a follow-up EP, "Fang Magie,"
which plays like sketches and outtakes — goofy, twisted pop songs and spoken-word experiments. This song is one long ecstatic build-up, handmade and sort of rueful.
4. The Hacking - "The Beginning"
Something new from Little Rock's The Hacking,
who have a new record out on Oct. 25, "So, I've Decided
" — they describe it as "a bunch of modernized sea shanties about a fisherman with a breath fetish."
5. Saeuce Millz - "Good Gas"
Last I heard from Pine Bluff's Saeuce Millz, he was shrouded in smoke and red light
, worrying his weed was "far too potent." Here he seems to have come to terms with his strain. Pine Bluff rap is having a fantastic year, by the way — look no further than the music video for Slimm Raw and ESide Shawty's wild "Eat Up."
6. Bad Match - "Taking Back My Bed"
Wrote about Bad Match's new EP last week
, but here's a reminder to check it out if you haven't
. Some of the city's best musicians are in this band, and the songwriting is sharp and unpredictable and angry.